Friday, September 29, 2017

Back in the USA

After a long flight from Tel Aviv via Amsterdam, I'm back in Kalifornia.  Quite a flight and quite an experience during the last ten days.  In the tapestry of life, one picks up yarn and threads from these experiences, and when its all said and done, hopefully your life will be beautiful and colorful blend of these experiences and sights.  I must say, that without reservation, my perspective of Israel, Palestine, and entire the middle east has been broadened considerably.  I now understand more of their differences and the extreme difficulty that it will take to make peace in the region.  Also, its nearly impossible to describe the experience in Fatima, Portugal and my pictures and video do it no justice.  It must be experienced live.

In the next few days after some sleep, I will post some observations and share some great pictures of some of the highlights of the pilgrimage.  For those thinking that travel to Israel and Palestine is dangerous, its not the case.  Its safe and tourists are overrunning the places and sights and we had no hint of danger or hostility.  There were 19 of us, all seniors, and a couple in the 80s with canes and we were able to manage visiting all the sites without major difficulty.  More later as it time for some sleep.

Floating on the Dead Sea

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A few hours to go

Will be leaving for the shuttle to the airport in about four hours.  I will be meeting the group in the East Bay and taking one of the shared shuttles to SFO.  From there its a stop somewhere in the US and then on to Paris.  From Paris, its a short flight to Lisbon.  Finally, its a bus ride to Fatima.

Why Fatima?  For one, its the 100 year anniversary of the first sightings and many are going there to celebrate and give thanks.  Here are a couple of videos, the first is a night time candle procession which is held nightly and the other is a Tourism Portugal official videl.  The night time procession in the video was extra large because the Pope was there that evening.  It was held in May of this year. Yes, they can and do fill up the vast square on a regular basis.

More later if I get the chance.  Check Twitter for more updates.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Set up Widget for Twitter

As I previously posted, I've added a Twitter widget to the right side of the blog page so that I can use Twitter instead of Blogger during my trip starting next week.  I found in the past that its a lot easier to tap out a few words or add a picture from my phone when I'm on the run.  Besides,  my T-Mobile plan gives me unlimited roaming data in a couple of the countries I am visiting so that makes it convenient to 'post on the go' very economically.

You should see the tweets and a timeline every time you come and visit this blog during the next couple of weeks.  If your blog reader is triggered by new posts, unfortunately it will not notify you of new tweets.  You have to come back on your own to see if there are any updates -- or -- you can simply follow me directly on twitter.  I will have my Chromebook with me so I can post if the WiFi situation or time allows.

Packing is almost done.  Traveling light on this trip and my suitcase is only about 2/3 full.  I plan to bring only the one suitcase and a small daily carry bag on this trip.  Likely to buy or bring back some items so that will pretty much fill the rest of the room.  Want to bring back some holy water and some gifts from the sites for friends and later use.  

Last minute stuff tomorrow and then its off to my plane at 3:30AM on Saturday morning...ugh  First stop:  Fatima, Portugal.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

TV is an absolute time waster

Realized how much TV impacts my life here in Kalifornia.  There is so much news about the Florida hurricane, the September 11th ceremonies, and the latest on North Korea that it can quickly absorb one in watching and before one knows it, a couple of hours has gone by.  In the land of smiles, we didn't have access to all the so called 'news' stations and thus I spent very little time watching TV.  I like the LOS model better and now I will not have my TV turned on, even in the background.

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Did some chores yesterday, like food shopping until the surprise thunder storm started to roll in. Last night, it was like the big mango as thunder and lightning was followed light rain in the Bay Area. Its strange because we normally do not get rain in the bay area until early October or November.  But this year has been strange weather-wise in many ways.  Many believe that much of this has been caused by government intervention into weather manipulation.  Some also believe that HARP and cloud seeding and chem trails are secret projects being conducted for military purposes.  While the existence, viability and effectiveness of these US government projects are highly disputed, there is no guarantee that other technically proficient nations such as Russia or China are not doing the same thing with their own scientists and have succeeded.

All I know is that there is a lot of strange stuff happening around the planet these days.

This is one of videos she watched all the time when she was younger...555

News from home is that Marina fell yesterday and broke one of her front teeth.  She also got a fat lip in the process as well.  It was something she knows she should not do, after watching videos about mishaps on youtube from jumping on the bed.  She was jumping on the bed at her aunt's house and fell off. Mommy had to take her to the dentist last night but all is well.  She just lost one of her baby teeth early and will get a new tooth in a year or so - no harm, no foul, just a lot of laughter for now.  Kids are pretty durable and its all part of growing up.

Started to pack yesterday and will do some more today, but felt really lazy due to the high humidity in the weather.  Supposed to rain and storm again this afternoon so it time to get out early for some exercise and go to the gym.

Monday, September 11, 2017

First Weekend in the Bay Area

The first and only weekend that I will have in the Bay Area this month is almost over.  This time next weekend, I will be in Portugal.  The weekend after that, the group will be in Israel and Jordan.  Thank goodness we have perfect weather here and our heart goes out to the people in Florida who are being devastated by the Cat 4 hurricane, Irma.  

Beautiful Day in Emeryville - Pix taken with my Oneplus 5 phone

Spent the last couple of days recovering from jet lag and doing chores like unpacking, shopping for provisions, and going through my mail and packages.  Will need to do some laundry and then start packing again as I will need to be on the plane next Saturday morning at 6AM.  By the way, as on my other trips I will post via Twitter instead of blogger when appropriate due to the schedule and unknown WiFi capabilities.

They sent wrong voltage and will be sending replacement

Got some of my light show hardware in, but it was the wrong voltage so the company will be sending me a replacement and I will return the one I got.  Great customer service and support and I'm glad I chose them even if they were expensive.  Guess you get what you pay for.  Also found one of my old laptops which was running Windows XP.  I plan on using it to run the show when testing new sequences before moving them over to the self contained Show director box.  I had this old Asus eeePC which I have stopped using and today I uninstalled everything on it except bare bones essentials.  It ran pretty fast after all the junk had been removed and is more than adequate to run the vendor's software.

Aside from sticker shock, everything is still the same.  Boring and more boring. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Safe Landing

This sign was up for only two weeks before it was taken down again

Back in the wonderful land of California oops, I mean Kalifornia.  Pretty decent flight from BKK yesterday as I slept most of the way.  The only complaint is a sore tailbone from being in one position for so long.  I even had over an hour to visit the EVA lounge in Taipei on the way back whereas in the past, I had to catch the connecting flight right away after getting off the flight from the mango.

The weather was pleasant last night, after what I heard was a bad heat wave in the bay area the last few weeks.  It was 82F in the condo last night, but it felt pretty good as we normally don't let our condo in the mango get below 80F anyway.  It felt just like home.

The goal is to get oriented today, shop for some supplies, and get ready for my pilgrimage trip in just 9 days.  After that, its two weeks here in the Bay Area before heading home.  Tight schedule, but I like it that way.  Will go out for my walk in a few minutes and have more to update later.

Hotel Kalifornia awaits....555

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A wet goodbye

See you later princess

It started to rain as it got closer to 1PM.  By the time we were in the taxi, it was raining very hard.  It rained very hard last night too, with thunder and lightning echoing around the big buildings downtown.  Took a bit longer to get to the airport, but once here, I checked in my bags, went through security, and then passport control in a span of only 10 minutes.  Gave a big hug and kiss to both B and Marina who was half asleep from the taxi ride.  I will miss them a lot.

Now, I have a couple of hours to chill out at the EVA lounge in Suvarnabhumi.  Its nothing super fancy to brag about, but the place is convenient, quiet, and has decent food.  I don't like the cocktail bar decor of the place, but its a lot better than sitting at the gate with hundreds of other people.

Talk to you all on the other side of the bookend.

One last fling before the airport

Got up early this morning and got everything ready for my trip.  That left a couple of hours for some waiting but I decided it was too precious a time to let go by just sitting around.  So I took Marina downstairs for one more swim because she doesn't have access upcountry to a pool anytime she wants like here. I've been packing a bit at a time over the last few days and so the big crush is not there this morning.

Anyway, the plan is to take a taxi to the airport at 1:00pm for my 4:20pm flight.  Only bringing back one bag plus my backpack so its going be a lot easier on this flight.  Coming back to the LOS will be a different story as I have lots of stuff for the light show and stuff I didn't bring last time because I was worried about handling heavy luggage.

That's it for now until the EVA lounge.  Hopefully I can get a decent bite to eat there and do another post before getting on the plane.  Not going to buy Wifi Access this time as I plan to do a lot of sleeping on this trip back.  


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Last full day in the mango

This is going to be my last full day in the mango and its going to be a bit busy.  I am still going to allocate time to what is important first - time with B and Marina takes priority.  In the works is some shopping, last minute as usual, and hopefully a nice dinner out someplace.  

Tomorrow, I will be catching the afternoon flight out and be back in SFO before 6PM.  This schedule is my favorite as I get almost the whole morning here the date of departure without getting into the Bay Area in the middle of the night.  There will be about 10 days before I get on another plane going the other way to the holy land via Fatima, Portugal.  This trip is in thanks for my successful operation and recovery and the many blessings I have gotten over these years.  Religion is not a topic on this blog and I will leave it at that.

Yesterday, I did have the chance to visit the Archery Thai shooting range.  Saw some friends and regular shooters there and was given a warm welcome back.  Gave them an update on my recovery and shot about an hour's worth of arrows with no pain at all.  Used my lightest pull bow (34lbs) and it felt fine.  This morning, I'm feeling a bit tender in my muscles in my shoulders and back, but that is normal for any kind of athletic activity in which one hasn't participated in for a while.  The arrows were flying all over the place, but at least all of them were on the paper target...555

That's it for today.  Need to go out and do some stuff as time is running faster as tomorrow approaches.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Couple of days left

There is only a couple of days left here on this bookend and I've been trying to make the most of the time remaining.  This trip was significant for me because it was a kind of a return from someplace with a lot of uncertainty and risk to someplace I could feel loved, relaxed and comforted again.  As I look back before my trip, I had just gotten over most of my recovery challenges and was coming back to the land of smiles after a very long time away.  Now, I feel like that time and place was so very long ago and that place so far away...until I realize that I have to get on that plane this week and go back.  As Johnnie Walker told me, at least the 800lb monkey was off my back - and he was a heavy SOB at that.

Spent the last couple of days with the family and my MIL.  She was here to take care of Ella after her vaccination shot and was a great help.  Ella got a fever on Saturday and had a rough night, but she bounced back strong in the morning.  Kids are amazing in how fast they can get over things and come roaring back.  On Saturday, I finally picked up the Tee shirts for the resort.  They are going to used as a casual 'uniform' by our working staff and is not intended for anything fancy.  They cost me around $3-4 USD per shirt depending on the size and sleeve length.  That included all the screen printing and making a new screen.  It has both our resort and market logos on the back.

Hey, this is a lot of fun!

Let me go, I wanna swim with big sis

Big sister Marina glad to have a play pal now

Yesterday, we spent a big part of the day in the pool at the condo.  Marina loves the pool and it was Ella's first time.  Under careful watch, we put Ella onto a little ring and without hesitation, she took off like she was a veteran.  In a few years, they will be fighting and splashing like all kids do when they are in the pool together.  Later in the afternoon, I took B's mother and Ella to the bus station to go back as Gaeow has school tomorrow and Ella is more at home at the resort now since she has been raised there.  Marina and B will be here until I leave Wednesday.

Invited BB to go to the archery range today, but got an early message from him that he is not well again.  I think I will go out for a little while and shoot for about an hour and do a social visit so that they didn't think I died from my heart operation....555  Will go out after finishing my laundry.  Gosh, I miss my maid Pond...a lot!  My priority is to find a maid on my return as its hard to do all this home stuff and still have fun.

Three days left and the clock is running...more later.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mango Mash...

Back in the mango.  Got back yesterday afternoon and will be here for the next few days.  The trip back was a lot of fun because we made a stop at Farm Chokchai and it was Ella's first time there.  She has come to Bangkok several times, she was even born here, but never had a chance to make a road stop at one of our favorite spots.  I posted about this place in previous posts, see here, and its a great place for kids and visitors alike.  Located about 50KM north of Saraburi, its about 2 hours from the big mango on National Highway 2 (AH2).  There are restaurants, shops, and a recently opened museum with an old helicopter on the roof.

It was Friday and we had both kids with us and I wanted some quality photo moments for our photo albums.  They have animals that the kids (or adults) can feed.  There is an elephant, sheep, and cows in little pens and booths nearby that sell baskets of grass or bottles of milk for 30 baht.  The kids just love to give food to the very hungry and aggressive animals.

Big sister knows how to get it done...

And now its time for some ice cream...........

Ella enjoying her umm..! Milk ice cream

These two didn't need any help...555

Anyway after the enjoyable stop and some freshly made ice cream, I arrived in the mango and rested up a bit before meeting Bangkok Buddy for the free buffet.  I was still recovering from my stubbed toe and didn't want to do too much walking.  The buffet was pretty nice but there was only the two of us.  Afterwards, we took a taxi over to the lobby and hung out there for a couple of hours before it started raining.  Its low season, and there is a lot of talent around and not too many visitors so its a great time to be here.  Rainy season makes its hard to hang out outside so I ended up going home early.

My foot feels a lot better this morning.  Most of my swelling has gone down and I can put normal weight on the foot again without too much pain.  The 'painful' lesson here is to walk very carefully when you get up to go to the bathroom at 3AM as a heavy wooden chair is a lot stronger than your pinky toe...555. 

Lastly, have to pick up my Tee Shirts today for the resort, do a bit of shopping, and get a good washing for Vanna.  Yep its that time again to prepare for a little trip over to Kalifornia.  I might be physically away, but my heart and home will always be in the land of smiles.

Where's the beef?...its right here

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